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Ana survived an intense battle against world No.24 Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The 26-year-old was ultra-efficient in the opening set, but had to bounce back from a break down in the decider to eventually prevail 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in one hour and 54 minutes.
Ana made a rather slow start on Court 3. She was broken in the opening game and faced two more break points which would have put a 3-0 lead for the 29-year-old Russian on the scoreboard.
Nonetheless, the ninth seed shifted up a gear just in time. She saved both break chances and held serve, and followed it up with some aggressive returning and fine forehand striking. This enabled the 26-year-old to recapture the break in the next game.
Key to success in the opening set was Ana’s higher conversion rate on break points. She exploited all three of her break opportunities, while the Russian only managed to capitalize on one out of her eight chances. Ana didn’t look back and virtually whitewashed her opponent by reeling off six straight games.
Kuznetsova ended that six-game winning streak by breaking the world No.11 in the first game of the second act. Again, the Russian consolidated the break and earned two opportunities for a double break lead, just as it had occurred in set one.
But this is where all similarities with the opening set melted away. Kuznetsova had upped her game and in this stage of the match, the Russian didn’t allow Ana to take over command like she had done in the first act. Kuznetsova scored the double break lead in game three and managed to maintain her advantage until the end of the set, as she forced the contest to go the full distance.
In the decider, Ana once more quickly faced a break deficit after she was broken to 15 in the third game. The ninth seed, however, produced another swift turnaround to fight back from 3-1 down to a 5-3 lead.
Serving for the match, Ana started the game with a double fault, but thereafter won four straight points to clinch a relieving victory. All told, Ana won the last five games of the match.
Ana will encounter Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals on Friday. The 19-year-old, currently ranked world No.39, beat Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last eight. She conquered Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova earlier this week.
Photo: Manuela Davies / doubleXposure.com
By Joeri Moerman